The Sweet And Easy Vegan Substitute For Heavy Cream

When it comes to finding vegan swap-ins for the classics, there is no shortage of animal alternatives lining the store shelves. From eggs to butter to milk, there's a plant-based surrogate at your fingertips. However, how well that product fares compared to its classic-style cousin isn't as straightforward. When you opt for a vegan substitute in a recipe, the results are often hit-or-miss.

Some ingredients just can't be replaced. Unfortunately, swapping in mushrooms for bacon or zucchini for spaghetti will never go unnoticed. Likewise, eggs scrambled in vegetable oil will never quite have the creamy richness butter imparts. Fortunately, one such recipe staple — heavy cream — isn't as conspicuous when replaced. It's pretty uncomplicated and clear-cut if you choose the right substitute. There's an easy vegan swap-in for cow's milk cream in recipes, especially sweet ones, and it's not hard to find. You may already have some in your pantry or fridge.

Coconut cream is an easy replacement for heavy cream

Thanks to popular diets like keto and paleo, and more people moving toward other plant-based diets, the amount of coconut-derived food products on the market is expanding. So whether you're replacing nuts in a pesto, milk in a smoothie, butter in the pan, or whipped cream atop your favorite piece of pie, there's a coconut alternative at the ready.

Coconut cream is made the same way as coconut milk — by blending the flesh of a coconut with water. The only difference between coconut milk and coconut cream is the ratio of flesh to water. Coconut cream uses more of the coconut's meat and less water, resulting in a thicker, creamier consistency (via MasterClass).

Aside from the obvious different plant versus animal sources, there are some nutritional differences between heavy cream and coconut cream, per Souper Sage. For example, coconut cream is much lower in cholesterol than dairy cream, as well as saturated fat. However, heavy cream has twelve times more protein than coconut cream and substantially more vitamin A. In addition, they're both great sources of calcium and are low-carb. However, their differences can be slightly more notable when it comes to taste and texture.

How to substitute coconut cream for heavy cream

Similar to how coconut milk can be subbed in one-for-one for any milk in a recipe, coconut cream can be swapped in pretty much whenever heavy cream is called for. However, while not overpowering, there is a hint of coconut flavor and sweetness not found in heavy cream. Depending on what you're making, this could be an advantageous disparity or not, but it's always worth keeping in mind.

Coconut cream is typically found in a smaller can sitting next to the larger cans of coconut milk on the shelf. Or, you can simply refrigerate a can of coconut milk that does not contain emulsifiers, such as guar gum or carrageenan (via Steph Gaudreau). After several hours or so, the cream will separate from the liquid in the can, and you can easily scoop it out.

If you opt to refrigerate a can of coconut milk to source your coconut cream, the consistency of the cream that separates is not always on par with a carton of smooth heavy cream. A simple solution is to whip it with a hand mixer to smooth any lumps. You can also turn it into that pie topping if you so choose, per the Minimalist Baker's instructions.